Attempted MSOP escapees plead not guilty, set for jury trialsTwo of the four patients who attempted escape from the Minnesota Sexual Offender Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake pleaded not guilty in Carlton County District Court Wednesday, and both exercised their right to be tried before a jury.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Two of the four patients who attempted escape from the Minnesota Sexual Offender Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake pleaded not guilty in Carlton County District Court Wednesday, and both exercised their right to be tried before a jury.
Russell Lynn Norton, 42, and Steven Allan Housman, 55, face felony charges of escape from custody in relation to an attempted escape from the facility on Saturday, June 19.
According to defense attorney Terri Port Wright, both Norton and Housman had earlier filed notices of defense based on mental illness and necessity (acting out of concern for their own safety or protection). They subsequently requested Rule 20 psychological evaluations through the court. Port Wright said those requests were denied by Judge Robert Macaulay Jr. last Friday.
During Wednesday’s hearing this week, both Norton and Housman entered not guilty pleas. Housman specifically requested that his plea include “by reason of mental illness.”
Judge Macaulay questioned Port Wright and prosecuting attorney Dennis Genereau about how long they anticipate the upcoming trials to last, and both indicated each would likely take a minimum of two days. Macaulay said the dates for the trials will be established after the respective law clerks check their schedules. Under the prisoners’ right to a speedy trial, the trials must take place within the next 60 days. Both remain in custody at the Carlton County Jail.
One of the two other MSOP patients involved in the same escape attempt, Lloyd Anthony Hartleib, 42, pleaded guilty on Sept. 9 to attempted escape from custody while under the supervision of a mental health treatment facility. Judge Macaulay sentenced him to one year and one day in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud (stayed for three years), 180 days of local confinement (with credit for time already served and the balance stayed for three years), and $130 in court fees. Following sentencing, Hartleib was returned to the MSOP facility in Moose Lake.
The other, Christopher Loyd Ivey, 40, petitioned to represent himself and is scheduled to make his next court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26.
According to court records, the four men were caught trying to scale the fences of the secure facility in Moose Lake. At that time, MSOP Special Investigator Jamie Jungers determined that all four men had earlier concocted an elaborate escape scheme that involved jimmying the facility door leading from the interior of the facility out to the courtyard area in order to prohibit staff from immediately apprehending them when they ran from the interior to the courtyard